Managing Your Expectations During a Job Search

It’s human nature to form expectations. We all create expectations all the time, but we rarely do it consciously. The problem is that most job seekers have unrealistically high expectations, and therefore often find themselves disappointed.  To make matters worse, when your expectations are not met you feel much worse than the good feelings you get when your expectations are exceeded.

In his book Your Brain at Work, David Rock offers some useful advice for job seekers.  Rock says it’s crucial to understand what is in your control and what is not. As a job hunter, you know it is tough to find a position in this economy, but you cannot do anything about that. You might have unreasonable expectations at two extremes: an expectation of being hired quickly or an assumption that you will never work again. Neither expectation is helpful, as neither is under your control.

Instead, Rock suggest you take action over things you can control: research the job market thoroughly, make contacts, and apply for positions you qualify for. Gather as much knowledge as you can. Then, form an expectation in the middle: you will find a job at some point.

In a recent column in The New York Times, Alina Tugend interviewed Rock about the best way for job candidates and others to manage expectations.  “There is no template for managing expectations. It seems as if it is best to have low expectations of things out of our control, realistic expectations of things we can control to some degree and high expectations of ourselves,” writes Tugend. And, perhaps the greatest truth of all is: always expect the unexpected.

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